So You Want To Become A Silent Herald?

So … you decide you want to volunteer and wonder what you can do to help. It’s not as hard as you think to become a Silent Herald for your area. Here are some tips:

How do I volunteer (besides sending my contact information to Goodhand Herald)?
At your local level, let your group's leaders (seneschal, baron/baroness) and the local group herald know that you are available and willing to interpret at meetings, revels, etc. Make arrangements with the herald to stand with him/her, so you can interpret what's being said. If you're available to interpret for an event where there'll be a royal court, contact Goodhand Herald so he/she can coordinate with Their Majesties (and Their Highnesses ) chamberlains and the steward of that event.
Don’t let a lack of formal training stop you!
Just being able to fingerspell is enough to get started. Some kind of communication is better than none. If you can point to the person getting the award and fingerspell “A” “O” “A,” then any deaf or hard-of-hearing folks in the room will at least have some sort of an idea of what is going on.
You need to be able to hear and to be seen.
The folks who need your services need to be able to see you. It does them no good if you are stuck behind the thrones, or down on the floor and hidden behind the folks in the first row. Also, be sure to wear a plain color that contrasts with your skin so that folks can easily make out your signs. You need to be close enough to the Voice Herald to be able to hear what he/she is saying.
Ask to be treated like any other herald.
Don’t be afraid to politely ask the Court Herald to include you in the pre-court meeting. It is tremendously helpful to be able to see how to spell the names of the award recipients. Also, if you have time, you can look up any signs for awards that you don’t already know. If you know the order of what’s going to happen in court, you’ll be better prepared for what happens there. Part of your job as a Silent Herald is to convey the “audio” portions of the event. If there is fanfare or music, you can sign “music playing.” Or, if you know that someone is going to perform “shtick” you can be prepared to ham it up with your signs too (conveying their “shtick” as well as you can). You’ll be able to concentrate on letting folks know what is happening instead of trying to figure it out on the fly.
Don’t get disheartened.
If there aren’t any immediately apparent deaf or hard-of-hearing folks who need you to sign for them, don’t get frustrated. Often, deaf and/or hard-of-hearing folks don’t go to court BECAUSE they can’t hear what’s going on and there haven’t been interpreters there for them in the past. Word of mouth needs to spread that there is signing in court before Silent Heralding will really take off. If you want the word to get out faster, consider having a Silent Heralds’ Point or an “Introduction to Silent Heraldry” class during the day of the event. If you have time, consider offering your services to any deaf and/or hard-of-hearing folk while they wander around the event or cruise the merchants. Having a few printed articles and manual alphabet cards available for people to take will raise a lot of interest.
Have fun!
Since this is a volunteer organization, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Just have fun and be encouraged by the thought that what you’re doing is a boon for all the deaf and hard-of-hearing folks out there!

Written by: Maestra Suzanne de la Ferté (Suzanne Booth)